Sunday, August 17, 2014

Book Trailer: "One More Thing" by B.J. Novak

'One More Thing'

This has been the saddest year....

Not only have I lost my daughter, but we have lost one of the world's most original comedians, gentle humanitarians, and sensitive actors.  I speak, of course, about Robin Williams.

Today, my husband and I replayed Williams' 1998 film, 'What Dreams May Come' (based on the book written by the late, great Richard Matheson), and were startled by some of the lines. His mentor tells him that he died at 63...and Williams was 63 when he committed suicide just last week.  The irony is so apparent now that Williams has left us, and I'll never see it in the same way again.

After the film ended, we decided that we had enough sadness in our weekend, and I thought about a collection of short stories that made me laugh.  We all need some laughs, don't you think?  I'm sure that Robin would approve.

'One More Thing' is a recently-published collection of short stories written by the brilliant B. J. Novak, a former writer/actor on the U.S. version of 'The Office'.  Although his early appearances as The Temp were spent in the background, once his character was promoted to District Manager, he really came into his own.  Self-absorbed (especially with that damn Blackberry!), cruel (especially to his on-again, off-again girlfriend Kelly, played by the equally-brilliant Mindy Kaling), and entitled (or so he thought), Novak gave us some hilarious moments.  But I feel it was his writing that truly showcased his talent.

Once I saw the funny, original trailer for 'One More Thing', I knew I had to get my hands on it. 

A boy wins a $100,000 prize in a box of Frosted Flakes, only to discover that claiming the winnings will totally change his family dynamic.  A woman sets out to seduce Tony Robbins, the motivational speaker, and turns to Robbins, himself, for advice.  A man newly-arrived in Heaven finally decides to fulfill a promise he made to his grandmother...only to find that it is postponed time and time again.  We learn why wearing a red t-shirt is the key to finding true love.  And when the Stock Market is's really down.

Author B.J. Novak
There's more, lots more, and some of them contain rip-roaring irony.  Some are only a page long.  Some of them are a bit...snarky.  But all are entertaining (I loved 'The Market was Down') and subtle in some of their messages. But most of all, they are just so damn original. 

Thank you for the laughs (and the sensitivity), Mr. Novak.

It seems you've finally been promoted from Temp.

'One More Thing', written by B.J. Novak, and published by Alfred A. Knopf, is available at your local library and favorite independent bookstore. 
ISBN 978-0-385-35183-6


Sunday, August 10, 2014


Just the other day, I wandered down to the mailbox and found a book mailer in among various bills, circulars, and junk envelopes.  "Hmm....," I thought. "I wonder what this could be?"

I ran upstairs, tore open the envelope, and there, cradled within a cocoon of bubblewrap was an advance copy of 'Horrorstör', the new novel by Grady Hendrix.  What makes this book so enticing is the fact that it looks almost exactly like an IKEA catalog.  I kid you not.  Each section has a drawing of a particular piece of furniture, and each piece gets stranger and stranger.

I had to delve into it....immediately.

'Horrorstör' is a horror novel (can I hear a 'Duh'?) set in an IKEA-like furniture store.  It's a simply told tale that grew weirder and darker the further I read.  

And I liked it.  Sure, the format is rather...unique, but that doesn't take away from the compelling story.  The catalog format actually enhances the 'experience'.  

Strange things are happening at the well-calibrated, precision-engineered Orsk furniture store in Cleveland, Ohio.  When managers arrive every morning, they find broken bookshelves, shattered glass, and smashed wardrobes.  It's clear that someone is in the store at night, and three young employees volunteer to work a ten-hour dusk-to-dawn shift in order to find the intruder. Under the the guidance of their store manager, Basil, the team patrols the empty showroom floors...and finds something, or someone, so horrible that it defies the imagination.

The story seems simple, at first.  There's Amy, an almost-slacker, who is only working there in order to make her rent.  Then there's Matt and Trinity, two employees who are bound-and-determined to create a ghost hunter show for the Bravo network.  And Ruth Anne, the employee who has been there forever and always has a kind word for everyone, is a bit reluctant to join in the search.  Finally, there's Basil, the leader, the manager, who is the company cheerleader and the one who feels the most responsibility.  

I loved them all.  Some are quirky, some surprised me.  But watching each character rise to the occasion made the hunt even more interesting and intense.

Author Grady Hendrix
'Horrorstör' is a quick read, and I wished it had been longer.  I'm hoping that author Hendrix will treat us to a sequel.

After I reached the end, I couldn't be left hanging.

But the weirdest thing was this:  Within that bundle of mail, I found an IKEA catalog.

If that wasn't an 'OOO-EEE-OOO' moment, I don't know what is.

'Horrorstör' by Grady Hendrix (co-founder of the NY Asian Film Festival), and published by Quirk Books, is due out in September 2014.  You'll find it at your favorite independent bookstore and local library.  Book Hog wishes to thank the publisher for the opportunity to read and review this book


Saturday, August 9, 2014

'The Care and Feeding of Books'

"There's so much more to a book than just the reading"
~Maurice Sendak

As most of you know by now, one of my favorite places to read is in the bath tub.  I rarely read a hardcover book while soaking because I'm afraid I'll either drop it because  A. a cat, while walking along the edge, will knock it out of my hand, or, B.  I'll become drowsy and let sleep overcome me, resulting in the dreaded 'dropping the book in the water'.  Worst of all, the humidity will ruin the entire book.  So, I usually try to just read paperbacks while soaking.

So, while soaking just the other day, I thought about the care and feeding of hardcover books.  I was entertaining the thought of dusting my shelves and books when I came upon the idea of sharing some tips with my readers....and that means you!

Where do you store your hardcover books?  And what do you do while reading them?  Do you use a bookmark to hold your place?  And are you one of the many who abuse the spines?

Here's what you should and shouldn't do with your beloved books...

1.  While reading, make sure that your hands are clean!  It's important that you not leave dirty, icky finger prints on your cherished books! One of my stepsons (who shall remain nameless) had dirty hands while reading one of my Harry Potter books (first American printing/edition), and I freaked out when I found dirty thumbprints on three of the pages.  If you value your books, and wish to sell them at a later date, dirty marks will bring down the value big time!  Plus, it's just disrespectful, people!

2.  Don't eat and/or drink while reading!  That, I'll admit, is a rule I don't always obey.  I have to have a cup of tea or coffee next to me, but Cheesy Poofs are a definite no-no. See rule #1.  Another rule:  NEVER SMOKE WHILE READING!  The smell permeates the pages and does not go away, no matter what trick you use to mask it. While I'm sorting books, and I come across one that is nicotine-infested, it immediately goes into the recycle bin.

3.  Do not dog-ear/fold the corner of a page to keep your place!  Not only is it not attractive, but it, too, is disrespectful.  Use a bookmark!  It can be a plain piece of paper, or a matchbook cover, or even your winning lottery ticket (just remember to include Book Hog on your list of recipients when you go to cash that ticket!).

4.  When shelving books, don't cram them next to each other! Books need to breathe, but if they are crammed together, it can warp the covers!  

5.  Store books in the right atmosphere!  Never store books in a garage, an attic, or a basement!  They require a relatively dry, clean environment. And don't expose them to direct light!  

6.  Keep your books away from radiators and vents!  See rule #5.

7.  Dust regularly!  No one (especially you!) wants to open a book and sneeze the moment it is opened.  Plus, dust dries out books and the pages become brittle!  We can't have that, can we?

8.  When shelving books, don't let them lean!  If you don't have enough books to fill a shelf, place some in a horizontal stack.  Voila!  Bookend!

9.  When reading a paperback, NEVER fold back the cover!  Not only will it weaken the spine, but you will lose pages!'s disrespectful! Keep the spine healthy, and you'll have many years of happy reading.

10.  Don't write your name in your books!  I cannot stress this enough! If you MUST write your name in your books (preferably on an endpaper), use a PENCIL...and use it lightly!  If you plan on selling your book, the value goes down if your name is written in ink. Although Book Hog absolutely loves the art of book plates, they, too, can lessen the value...unless you're a famous writer.  Then that rule goes out the window.

11.  Before reading a hardcover book, take off the dust jacket and store it in a safe place!  Believe it or not, the value of a hardcover book goes way up when it has a dust jacket.  So, treat it with respect.  A good thing to do is to make your own cover; a paper bag works well, or buy a 'book sock' (elasticized fabric).

12.  If you have an advance reading copy (ARC) and you want an author to sign it, make sure they just sign their name!  Authors 'in the know' will not write your name after their signature  (The brilliant author Chelsea Cain taught me that lesson!). In my opinion (and opinions in the Book World vary), ARC's are the real 'first edition/first printing' of a book, and just the author's signature raises the value.  

I have learned so much about books while taking care of our non-profit's book section. I see the delight in customer's eyes when they spy a book they know is worth a bit of moolah. Even old books with 'foxing' catches their eyes (foxing: age- related spots and browning on vintage books).  The biggest thing I hate is the dreaded mildew/mold! Books with those 'characteristics' are immediately thrown into the recycle bin. It's unhealthy and disgusting!

So, treat your books with respect!  They are there for your reading pleasure, your education, and enlightenment.  

If you treat them well, they'll treat you well!  Happy reading!